"O Dolly," they exclaimed, running up to their favorite, "she has come—we have seen her! She is very tall, and—and——""Yes, Olive; I'm very busy. Do you want anything?""Oh, she's telling a story," whispered Olive under her breath. She settled herself contentedly to listen.
"I did not feel tired, Mrs. Freeman," replied the newcomer in an eager, irrepressible sort of voice. "You put me into my room and told me to go to bed, but I didn't want to go to bed. I have had my supper, thank you, so I don't want any more, but I have been dying with curiosity to see the girls. Are these they? Are these my schoolfellows? I never saw a schoolfellow before. They all look pretty much like other[Pg 13] people. How do you do, each and all of you? I'm Bridget O'Hara. May I sit near you, Mrs. Freeman?"
She entered the room, then, in a long white embroidered dress, looped up here, there, and everywhere with sky-blue ribbons. It was a charming toilet, and most becoming to its wearer, but absolutely unsuitable for schoolroom work.
"No, I can't do that; we have to obey rules at school, and one of our strictest rules is that no girl is to leave her own bedroom without special permission."
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Janet, accompanied by Olive and Ruth, was pacing slowly backward and forward under some shady trees. Her satellites were devoted to her, and Janet's slender figure was very erect, and her manner somewhat dictatorial. Dorothy Collingwood was not to be seen, she had evidently gone to join Evelyn upstairs. The girls of the middle school were preparing to exert themselves over more than one tennis match. The smaller children were going down to the shore.
She gave Bridget a great deal of sympathy, adjured her to eat, shook her head over her, and having gained a promise that a pair of long suède gloves should be added to the ribbons and Venetian beads, went away,[Pg 69] having quite made up her mind to take Bridget's part through thick and thin.No, there was nothing to be alarmed about. Evelyn was too silly, with her nerves and her fads. Janet stood by the bend of the hill. Her thoughts were so busy that she scarcely troubled herself to listen for the approaching carriage.
"The precious love, how nicely she talks, and how I love her gentle, refined words. But, darling, I'm not going to bed, for I'm not tired."
"I shall do nothing to-night," said Mrs. Freeman. "But to-morrow, after morning school, I must speak to Bridget. Her conduct during that interview will more or less decide what steps I must take."
"I can't eat, Marshall," she said. "I'm treated shamefully, and the very nicest dinner wouldn't tempt me. You can take it away, for I can't possibly touch a morsel. Oh, dear! oh, dear! how I do wish I were at home again! What a horrid, horrid sort of place school is!"
"You have disobeyed me. One of my strictest rules forbids the girls to leave the grounds without permission. You not only left the grounds contrary to my express order, but you took several of the little children of the school with you. It is against my orders to have the trees destroyed by breaking off branches. Knowing this, you willfully disobeyed me again, and you and your companions rushed down the road shouting wildly. What was the result? Evelyn Percival mercifully escaped serious injury, but my carriage was broken and my horse damaged. The mere money loss you have occasioned me, Bridget——"